Settlers Arrive at the Everglades

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The 20-cent Ponce de Leon stamp was issued October 12, 1982.

The Everglades region has been inhabited for well over 10,000 years. With its plentiful food sources of fish, plants, and land animals, the area was well suited to support a large Native American population. Europeans first arrived on the peninsula in 1513 when Ponce De León discovered Florida during his search for the fountain of youth. At that time, there were two main tribes of Native Americans that lived in the area of the Calusas and the Tequestas. These tribes were all but eliminated after the onset of European exploration due to new diseases such as tuberculosis, influenza, and polio.

The south Florida area fell back into relative isolation after the initial Spanish attempts at conquest. In the 18th century, Native Americans from Georgia and northern Florida migrated to the Everglades region. The resulting group became the Seminole tribe. The Seminole tribe was forced out of Florida throughout the 19th century during the three Seminole Wars. Settlers moved in soon after in the 1880s and 1890s. With the arrival of new people, the threats to the Everglades’ fragile ecosystem began.